06/18/2001 12:00AM

Sunday Stakes Recaps

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Until Sundown wins Affirmed in graded stakes debut

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Missing the Triple Crown may have been a blessing for Until Sundown, who won Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"If you think you have a horse of that caliber and skip it, you can have a full hand at the end of the year," said trainer Laura De Seroux. The Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap was Until Sundown's graded stakes debut, coming 4 1/2 months after his career debut. The win put him on course for a shot at some of the nation's top 3-year-olds in the $500,000 Swaps Stakes on July 15.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Until Sundown ($4.20) finished a neck in front of 6-1 Top Hit after a stretch-long duel, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.10 before a crowd of 11,936.

Bayou the Moon, who beat Until Sundown in the Alydar Stakes on May 23, finished third, and was followed by Mr. Joe C and Take My Note. Early Flyer was scratched

Stevens had Until Sundown in second behind Take My Note for the first half-mile and took the lead at the end of the backstretch. Top Hit closed along the rail, but could not pass the Until Sundown. Until Sundown has won 3 of 5 starts and $146,600.

o Expected Program remained unbeaten in three starts following a one-length win in the $78,400 Haggin Stakes. Ridden by Tyler Baze, Expected Program ($2.60) led by two lengths in early stretch, and was roused in the final sixteenth to hold off Tracemark, who was a threat in midstretch.

- Steve Andersen

Delaware: Burning Roma romps

Burning Roma has so far avoided the nation's top 3-year-olds. But after an impressive romp in the $200,000 Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park, it may soon be time for Burning Roma to take on bigger game.

Facing three of the colts beaten by Point Given in the Preakness, Burning Roma ($5.60) cruised to a

9 3/4-length victory by running 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.21 over a wet track.

Marciano, seventh in the Preakness, finished second, a nose in front of Bay Eagle, the eighth-place horse in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Jockey Rick Wilson, who has been aboard for four of Burning Roma's seven wins in 10 career starts, said the colt has improved dramatically since returning to trainer Anthony Dutrow's care following two winter races at Tampa Bay Downs.

"I do not know if they have changed his routine since he was in Florida, but Tony has got him back on track now," Wilson said. "I think the last couple of weeks he has really turned him around."

- Joe DeVivo

Belmont: Tweedside in Sands Point

ELMONT, N.Y. - Tweedside romped through the mud to win her first stakes in the $107,800 Sands Point at Belmont Park by six lengths over Owsley.

The Sands Point, a Grade 3 for 3-year-old fillies, automatically lost its grade when heavy rain forced the race to be run on the main track, instead of turf as originally scheduled. The Graded Stakes Committee will review the race result and determine if the grade will be reinstated.

Only four started in the 1 1/8-mile Sands Point after six fillies were scratched because of the surface switch. Platinum Tiara was made the favorite on the strength of her runner-up finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

In the Sands Point, Platinum Tiara, with Tommy Turner in the saddle, set an unpressured pace through an opening quarter in 23.15 seconds and a half-mile run in 46.79, over the wet going. The favorite ran out of steam around the far turn, but Tweedside, who had been tracking the early leader in second position, surged to the lead and was untouchable in the stretch run. Richard Migliore rode Tweedside ($8.40).

Platinum Tiara finished third, six lengths behind Owsley. Cozzy Corner finished fourth and last. Todd Pletcher trains Tweedside for Eugene and Laura Melnyk.

- Karen M. Johnson

Woodbine: Mountain Angel

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mountain Angel won her first stakes Sunday at Woodbine, the $150,500 Ontario Matron Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Mountain Angel established a clear early lead under Todd Kabel and set moderate fractions splits while being tracked by Katherine of Ascot and Gandria. Catch the Ring and Nymphenburg both began to rally heading into the far turn, just as Mountain Angel got three-quarters in 1:11.24. Gandria made a wide bid in early stretch, and 20-1 shot Nymphenburg came charging up the rail after lacking running room, but Mountain Angel held on to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Nymphenburg finished second, a half-length ahead of Gandria.

- Ron Gierkink

Emerald Downs: Makors Mark

AUBURN, Wash. - Makors Mark returned to peak form with a gritty half-length victory over Crowning Meeting in Sunday's one-mile, $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at Emerald Downs.

Makors Mark, a 4-year-old, dueled for the lead through six furlongs in 1:10.20 under Gary Baze, then turned back a strong late challenge from favorite Crowning Meeting to prevail in 1:35.60. Rub, who went off at 20-1, was third. It was the first win from three starts this year for Makors Mark.

- Dennis Dodge

Monmouth: Tugger, too

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Tugger, trained by Todd Pletcher, bolted to the lead from post 1 in the $50,000 Klassy Briefcase Stakes for fillies and mares, and accelerated down the lane under jockey Jose Velez Jr. to win the five-furlong off-the-turf race in 57.61 seconds over a sloppy track.

Cedar Knolls was 5 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Curious Treasures was third. The field was reduced from 11 horses to six when it was switched to the main track.

o U.S. Gold, the 6-5 favorite, cruised by the front-runners turning for home, and fended off a challenge from second-place finisher Sea Soul to win the $30,000 Malouf Auto Group Starter Series #1 by more than four lengths

- Ryan Goldberg